Firefighter Close Calls - Thu, 05/09/2019 - 03:23

5/9/1791 a “fire, which started in an Inn only two blocks from Independence Hall in Philadelphia, PA quickly spread to several adjoining buildings. While operating at the blaze, 12 firefighters were killed when they were caught under the collapsing walls of a block of buildings. They were the first members of the department to lose their lives in the performance of their duties. They were also some of the very first firefighters to lose their lives in the history of the U.S. fire service.”

5/9/1896 an East Village, Manhattan, New York (FDNY) firefighter fell through a hatchway into a sub-cellar the day before while fighting a fire. He died from the injuries sustained from the fall.

5/9/1929 an Aurora, IL firefighter “was suffocated by smoke at a fire in the Old Orpheum Building on Main Street in Aurora. The fire was discovered shortly before midnight and four fire department companies responded to the blaze. He was leading firefighters from Company 4 in their firefighting efforts in the basement when he was overcome by smoke. He climbed out of the basement on his own, but soon collapsed into the arms of two other firefighters. An inhalator was summoned, but they were unable to revive him.
The cause of the fire was traced back to defective wiring between the basement and first floor of the building, and the damage was estimated at $2000. At the time, the Old Orpheum Building housed the King Joy Lo Chinese Restaurant, Block’s Toggery Shop, Bud’s Smoke Shop and Shoe Shinning Parlor, and the Universal Billiard Hall. Following his death, the coroner’s jury recommended that gas masks be provided for every company in the Aurora Fire Department.”

5/9/1934 a Paterson, NJ firefighter became the second too died “as a result of injuries sustained May 7th, when he and another firefighter were caught under a collapsing wall while operating at a three-alarm fire involving a lyceum. The other man died May 8th.”

5/9/2001 a Passaic, New Jersey firefighter died at an occupied three-story apartment building fire. The first-arriving engine company reported a working fire. Firefighters on-scene received reports that children were trapped in the building. He and another firefighter from his company proceeded to the second floor of the building to conduct a search. A search of the second floor was conducted and all of the apartments on that floor were found to be clear. He and the other firefighter proceeded to the third floor to continue their search. On their way to the third floor, the team encountered heavy smoke and high heat. Both firefighters went back to the second-story landing. The second firefighter partner told him to wait on the landing while he retrieved additional lighting from the apparatus. A few minutes later, he called on the radio and said that he was trapped on the third floor. This transmission was not heard on the fireground and a second request for help was also not heard. He called a third time and reported that he was trapped on the third floor and needed help. His exit path had been blocked by fire, and he was unable to find his way out. A defective throttle on the pumper supplying the initial attack line created water supply and pressure problems. Firefighters were unable to advance to the third floor to rescue him. The fire on the third floor grew to a point where it was impossible for firefighters to control it with handlines. An aerial master stream was used to darken down the fire and allow firefighters to access the third floor. After a number of attempts, the missing firefighter was discovered in a third-story bedroom. The cause of death was listed as asphyxiation. The fire was caused by an unsupervised twelve-year-old girl that was attempting to light a stove. The children that were reported trapped were actually out of the building.”

5/9/2013 Lahore plaza fire, Pakistan, left at least eight people dead, six others critically injured after a massive fire broke out at the Lahore Development Authority (LDA) plaza. Four of the victims plunged to their deaths after waiting to be rescued for four hours on balconies and window sills. The fire started from electrical short circuit on the 7th floor and engulfed the 7th floor and spread to the 8th and 9th floors.

5/9/2011 Grand Rapids, MI a fire at the Kindel Furniture Warehouse started on an upper floor of the building around noon by a welder in an un-drained lacquer line.

5/9/1983 a Catholic Church fire killed twenty-one in Santa Cruz Tlapacoya, Mexico.

5/9/1977 the Hotel Poland in Amsterdam was destroyed by fire that killed thirty-three.

2001 Soccer fans were trampled in Ghana; 126 dead.

5/9/1911 a fire broke out at Empire Theater in Edinburgh Scotland.

5/9/1894 the town of Norway, ME was destroyed by fire that started about 1:30 p.m. in the box shop on the west end of Main Street.

5/9/1891 Alliston, Ontario 130, mostly places of business, were destroyed by a fire that covered from five to six entire blocks.

5/9/1848 Detroit, MI conflagration, started around 11:30 a.m. in a large warehouse, between Randolph and Bates Streets; 80 to 100 buildings were destroyed, “including two or three large warehouses on the river, the Steamboat Hotel, Water’s Hotel, and a number of private residences on Jefferson Avenue.”

5/9/1837 the steamship “Sherrod” burned in Mississippi River below Natchez Mississippi, 175 died.

5/9/1925 Memphis, TN the Steamer M. E. Norman sank, while turning in the Mississippi River, twenty-two died

5/9/1937 Chattahoochee, FL a school bus and truck collision killed six students, all members of the Greensboro club of Future Farmers of America, the boys were returning from a convention trip to Marianna.

Categories: Fire Service, Safety


Firefighter Close Calls - Wed, 05/08/2019 - 20:28


A Troy bowling alley, Alpha Lanes, fell victim Wednesday to what was perhaps the worst fire in the Capital Region this year.

Firefighters from across the region spent the day putting out the devastating flames, which also included hosing down the remaining hot spots on Fifth Avenue.

Alpha Lanes owner Joe Scaccia stood watch as his life’s work came to a halt. The historic bowling alley opened in 1937.

“My whole family, the Boys Club, the high schools, my whole family was brought up in there,” Scaccia said.

While the flames blew high, just before 10 a.m., Troy Fire Chief Eric McMahon says two of his members went missing.

“To say it was tense during those several minutes would be an understatement,” McMahon says.

Those two firefighters were located and unharmed, as well, neighboring businesses — including a furniture and hardware store — also escaped major damage.

That did not include Alpha Lanes. Their iconic bowling pin sign was crushed underneath the rubble.

“Take a look at the size and the magnitude of the fire. We ran out of manpower almost immediately,” McMahon said.

But with help from first responders from Watervliet, Green Island, Cohoes, Troy, and Albany, no one was harmed.

“It’s a testament to good luck and God’s will,” McMahon said.

And perhaps with that same luck and will, Scaccia’s life’s work will come full circle.

“If I can get enough money, maybe we’ll rebuild a few lanes or a recreation center, or something like that,” Scaccia said.

The first responding units to the Lansingburgh area found heavy smoke from second-floor windows and the roof of the building, and conditions deteriorated quickly, McMahon said.

Evan Sery@evanserytv

This is why first responders asked us to move. Where you see that smoke is where I just was moments ago.

5 10:38 AM – May 8, 2019 See Evan Sery’s other Tweets Twitter Ads info and privacy Alpha Lanes also took to Facebook earlier to share a statement following the fire.

“We would like to thank the community for their support! Thank you to the Troy Fire Department for doing their best! Everybody is safe and no one was hurt! This is a tragic event for the community and the Scaccia family,” the post read.

Categories: Fire Service, Safety


Firefighter Close Calls - Wed, 05/08/2019 - 16:10

By Kevin Schmidt, Quad City Times:

Clinton firefighter Adam Cain, who was severely injured Jan. 5 while fighting a silo fire at the ADM Grain Facility in Clinton, will return to light duty at the fire station at 7 a.m. Wednesday, according to a post on the department’s Facebook page.

Cain was hospitalized for 20 days before being released to go home.

Clinton firefighters were battling a fire in a silo at the ADM Grain Facility early Jan. 5 when there was an explosion at 8:45 a.m.

Clinton Fire Department Lt. Eric Hosette, 33, a 12-year veteran who also served as chief of the Charlotte Volunteer Fire Department, was killed.

Read the full story here.

Categories: Fire Service, Safety


Firefighter Close Calls - Wed, 05/08/2019 - 15:59

By Cassidy Najarian, Dallas News:

Firefighters had to be rescued Wednesday morning when they became disoriented in a burning house in Keller, authorities said.

Keller Fire-Rescue officials were called to the 1600 block of Crestwood Trail about 5 a.m. in response to a house fire believed to be sparked by lightning, according to Training Officer Jeff Huntley.

The house was occupied by a family of three and an unknown number of pets, police said. A cat died in fire, but no injuries were reported.

A fire crew entered the two-story home to attempt to fight the fire from inside. Two of the firefighters issued a mayday call after they were separated from the team and got disoriented by heavy smoke.

Read the full story here.

Categories: Fire Service, Safety

The Truman Fire Forum

Everyone Goes Home - Wed, 05/08/2019 - 08:35

The post The Truman Fire Forum appeared first on Everyone Goes Home.

Categories: Safety

U.S. Department of Labor Partners with Skanska USA Building Inc. To Promote Workplace Safety at Delaware Hospital Expansion Project

OSHA - Wed, 05/08/2019 - 07:00
May 8, 2019 U.S. Department of Labor Partners with Skanska USA Building Inc. To Promote Workplace Safety at Delaware Hospital Expansion Project
Categories: Safety

U.S. Department of Labor Cites Kansas Aircraft Manufacturer For Exposing Employees to Known Carcinogen

OSHA - Wed, 05/08/2019 - 07:00
May 8, 2019 U.S. Department of Labor Cites Kansas Aircraft Manufacturer For Exposing Employees to Known Carcinogen
Categories: Safety


Firefighter Close Calls - Wed, 05/08/2019 - 06:16

Two firefighters were trapped in a fire truck for several minutes Tuesday afternoon after the truck rolled and became entangled with live electrical wires.

State and county police responded to the scene, which involved a Salem Township fire truck, on Delaware County Road 300 West near the Henry County line. The incident happened about 3:45 p.m. and was in the vicinity of a field fire, which had been extinguished by other firefighters at the time of the accident.

The trapped firefighters were extricated from the truck and transported to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries. The incident is being investigated.

Categories: Fire Service, Safety


Firefighter Close Calls - Wed, 05/08/2019 - 06:10

BAILEY, MS (WLBT) – A man has been charged with burglary, DUI and motor vehicle theft after stealing a fire truck, causing thousands of dollars in damages.

Fire Chief Stanley Lucky says he first heard of the theft early Monday morning when he was told that one of his fire trucks was damaged and in the middle of a road.

The suspect, Tommy Lee Hill, was still behind the wheel of the vehicle when deputies arrived, reports WTOK.

After stealing the fire truck, Hill drove from the Bailey Fire Department to the city of Meridian where he would hit a utility pole, causing up to $100,000 worth of damage.

Chief Lucky says he was surprised that the suspect was able to crank the fire truck, since it is a multi-step process to start.

Hill’s bond is set at $35,000.

Categories: Fire Service, Safety


Firefighter Close Calls - Wed, 05/08/2019 - 03:27

5/8/1902 a Buffalo, New York firefighter “was killed when the Wells Grain Elevator, a huge wooden structure, exploded and collapsed. The collapse nearly buried 25 other firefighters working at the blaze about 3:30 a.m. The massive pile of corrugated iron and huge timbers created a pile 60-feet tall, and completely blocked Ohio Street. One other member was also trapped but was easily removed.”

5/8/1914 a Camden, New Jersey firefighter died “while directing operations from the roof at an extremely smoky three-alarm fire involving a two-story brick electroplating firm, he fell from the roof into an alleyway. In an attempt to avoid falling through a skylight, he had apparently stepped back into a shaft, falling onto a pile of scrap metal in the alley below. He was rushed to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead of a broken neck and a fractured skull.”

5/8/1920 a Baltimore, MD firefighter died “during a stubborn and smoky four-alarm cellar fire in a three-story clothing factory, several mishaps occurred, causing death and injuries to firefighters. A member of Water Tower 2 was pulling a line of hose to the fire, when he was struck by a Salvage Corps wagon and knocked unconscious. A member of Engine 6 stepped off the roof of an adjoining building and fell to the roof of the fire building, breaking his leg. The lieutenants of Engine 32 and Truck 5 were both overcome by the dense, acrid smoke. After the fire was extinguished, the body of a firefighter was found floating in the deep water that had accumulated in the cellar of the fire building. Efforts to revive him were tried for an hour, to no avail.”

5/8/1928 two Minneapolis, MN “died in a blaze in a commercial building at Nicollet Avenue and 15th Street. They were working in the first floor of a barber shop next to a beauty shop where a basement fire was in progress, when the floor of the barber shop collapsed without warning. Flames instantly involved the barber shop prevented their rescue. Both were found dead of asphyxiation, after the fire had been extinguished, in the basement of the beauty shop where they had crawled seeking escape.”

5/8/1934 two Paterson, New Jersey firefighters “died as a result of injuries sustained the previous day, when he and another firefighter were caught under a collapsing wall while operating at a three-alarm fire involving a lyceum. The other firefighter died May 9th.

5/8/1936 a Louisville, KY firefighter “was overcome with smoke inhalation after fighting a fire at Rudd Manufacturing. After returning from the alarm, he collapsed in the joker stand. Members of the Emergency Squad and the doctor worked on him, but he didn’t survive.”

“The fire alarm system was called a “Joker System”; when a fire alarm box on a corner was “pulled” a trip lever on the inside started a series of cogwheels turning. Each wheel was so designed to send a signal to the “fire tower” (fire alarm office), which caused a series of holes to be punched into a tape, each time a hole was punched, a horn or bell sounded. The number on the tape designated a street intersection or street address. Each fire station had a set of cards, indicating the location. This was known as the “Joker System”. The system was used from 1882 until 1977 (ninety-five years in service). As more fire alarm boxes were installed, the man on watch in the fire tower was phased out. A man stood watch at the desk, which would be nicknamed the “Joker Stand”.”

5/8/1943 a Philadelphia, PA firefighter “died from smoke inhalation after operating at a theater fire at Frankford Ave. He was rushed to the hospital, where he died an hour later.”

5/8/1978 a Paterson, New Jersey firefighter died “while operating at an arson fire in a vacant dwelling, he collapsed, on the second floor.”

5/8/1997 three West Helena Fire Department, Arkansas firefighters died at a hazardous-materials fire. “The West Helena Fire Department was dispatched to the BPS Bartlo chemical plant at 1:02 p.m. They were informed that there was smoke coming from the building and that it contained azinphos-methyl. As firefighters prepared to enter a chemical packaging plant to check a report of a bag of pesticide smoldering the building exploded at approximately 1:22 p.m. killing three firefighters and severely injuring one. A massive fire ensued causing the entire area to be evacuated as the fire fed on poisonous pesticides and herbicides. A huge cloud of toxic smoke covered the entire area, prohibiting firefighters from entering the area immediately. A total of 17 others, including 16 firefighters, were injured in the blast. Eleven, other firefighters were involved in the rescue of the injured firefighter and the rescue attempt for the three firefighters who died.”

Azinphos-methyl (Guthion) (azinophos-methyl) is a broad spectrum organophosphate insecticide. It is an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor (the same mechanism is responsible for the toxic effects of the V-series nerve agent chemical weapons). It is classified as an extremely hazardous substance. Azinphos-methyl is a neurotoxin derived from nerve agents developed during World War II. It was first registered in the US in 1959 as an insecticide and is also used as active ingredient in organophosphate (OP) pesticides. Flash point 69°C (156°F; 342 K)

5/8/2013 a Westland, Michigan firefighter died at a strip mall that contained a pool hall and a restaurant. “Firefighters had difficulty finding the seat of the fire and interior conditions worsened. The crew, in verbal communication, decided to exit the structure. The firefighter became separated from the other members of his crew as they exited. The Incident Commander (IC) noted that a firefighter did not exit the structure with his crew and made contact with the missing firefighter by radio. The firefighter reported that he was fighting the fire with another crew. At 0846hrs, he called by radio to say that he was out of air. This transmission was not heard by anyone on the scene or in the dispatch center. When his absence was noted, a crew was sent into the structure to locate the missing firefighter. Conditions did not allow a full search and firefighters did not report hearing a PASS device alarm or low air alarm while searching. All firefighters were withdrawn from the building. Part of the structure was removed to allow a safe search of the building once the fire was controlled. The firefighter was discovered at approximately 1200hrs under debris. He was found with his helmet, hood, and facepiece off but nearby.”

5/8/1988 phone service was interrupted by a fire at the Illinois Bell Hinsdale Central Office, a two-story, fire resistive non-sprinklered structure, that handled an estimated 3.5 million calls each day. About 3:50 p.m. the Springfield Illinois Bell facility, 200 miles away, began to receive power failure alarms and a fire alarm at 4:20 p.m. The Hinsdale Fire Department was not notified of the fire until 4:58 p.m. in part due to the failure of the local phone system. Flame damage was contained to a small area on the first floor, but extensive equipment was damaged by heavy smoke; building and equipment had been estimated at 40 to 60 million dollars.

5/8/1990 near Grayling, Michigan a rapidly spreading wildfire swept across 5,916 acres of a wildland/urban interface area beginning around 3:50 p.m. that heavily damaged more than 76 homes,125 structures, and 37 vehicles and boats.

5/8/1930 the Armour meat processing plant gas explosion killed nineteen in St. Joseph, MO.

5/8/1926 a fire broke out in Fenway Park that destroyed bleachers along the left field line.

5/8/1916 a German munitions bunker in Fort Douaumont exploded.

5/8/1911 the Flat Rock Hotel, a mountain resort, two miles from Hendersonville, NC was destroyed by fire.

5/8/1908 a fire destroyed a block of 30 buildings including the Terminal Hotel in Atlanta, GA

5/8/1907 Kansas City, MO a University building was devastated by fire that left six dead and started in a basement storeroom, close to the only elevator in the five-story brick structure, the building stood at the northwest corner of Locust and Ninth Streets.

5/8/1898 Duluth, MN conflagration left over 2,000 homeless when fifty frame buildings on Minnesota Point, just above the ship canal were destroyed by fire.

5/8/1888 Arlington, NE an arson fire killed seven.

Categories: Fire Service, Safety


Firefighter Close Calls - Tue, 05/07/2019 - 19:09

A Fayetteville firefighter is recovering this week after being flown to Vanderbilt University Medical Center on Wednesday as the result of injuries he sustained while assisting Lincoln County volunteer firefighters on the scene of a fire in Park City.

Volunteers from across the county – Park City, Elora, Flintville, Central, Petersburg, Boonshill and Molino – had responded to a call late Wednesday morning at Park City Recycling, said Doug Campbell, chief of the Lincoln County Volunteer Fire Department and director of the Emergency Management Agency, noting that the cause of the fire remains under investigation.

“It took us about six hours to get it extinguished,” Campbell said. “We owe a huge thank you to the Fayetteville Fire Department for coming out and assisting us with their ladder. If they had not come out, we are not sure how long it would have taken to put it out.”

The fire started at Park City Recycling at approximately 11 a.m., and according to reports, the accident involving the Fayetteville firefighter occurred in the early stages of fighting the blaze. The firefighter sustained a severe concussion, broken clavicle and seven broken ribs, said the chief, adding that he was released from Vanderbilt Thursday afternoon – “He has a long road to recovery,” said Campbell. “Please keep him in your thoughts and prayers.”

The fire chief also expressed his appreciation to Tim Gill, county road superintendent, for offering the use of a track hoe, and to Chris Merz, superintendent of Lincoln County Board of Public Utilities, for helping out with the water supply.

“We flowed around 65,000 gallons through the city ladder truck, and we’ve estimated right now another 25,000 to 30,000 before the ladder arrived on the scene,” he said.

Words of appreciation were also extended to Stovall’s Body Shop and Wrecker Service, which brought the firefighters several pizzas and cases of iced down Gatorade –”We were very much appreciative of that,” said Campbell. “It was much needed.”

Categories: Fire Service, Safety


Firefighter Close Calls - Tue, 05/07/2019 - 19:03

Fire crews were called to a house fire on Massey Lane early Tuesday morning.

The fire broke out at a home near Kirby Parkway, south of Shelby Farms.

When crews arrived, flames were shooting through the roof of the home.

One firefighter was injured at the scene and taken to the hospital. Memphis Fire Department Lieutenant Wayne Cooke said the firefighter suffered minor burns to his neck and hands.

Two people were inside the home but were able to escape. There were also two cats inside; they have not been found.

The fire started in the attic, according to Cooke, and quickly vented itself through the roof.

Categories: Fire Service, Safety


Firefighter Close Calls - Tue, 05/07/2019 - 16:45


A Baltimore City firefighter suffered a minor injury after a floor collapsed during a house fire early Tuesday morning, Baltimore City Fire Spokesperson Blair Adams said.

The fire started around 12:45 a.m. on North Janney Street in east Baltimore. Crews had the fire under control by 3:00 a.m., Adams said.

While crews were battling the flames, Adams said, the second floor collapsed, temporarily injuring one firefighter. That firefighter was okay, according to Adams, and refused medical treatment and remained at the scene to continuing fighting the fire.

No other injuries were reported in the fire, Adams said. A firefighter on the scene told 11 News that crews were still searching the home for any possible victims.

Read full story here.

Categories: Fire Service, Safety

Stay electrically safe during flooding

NFPA - Safety Source - Tue, 05/07/2019 - 16:37
As NFPA works alongside the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) to increase electrical safety awareness throughout May—National Electrical Safety Month—we take a look at safety during flooding. Flooding can occur anywhere, but
Categories: Safety


Firefighter Close Calls - Tue, 05/07/2019 - 16:35

The Sun News:

The Controller-General of the Federal Fire Service, Ibrahim Liman, has warned against attacks on personnel of the service while discharging their duties.

Liman gave the warning in Abuja during the unveiling of the Skytick Advance Fire Fighting Technology MPM-400.

Liman said the service is doing its best with the State Fire Service to educate members of the public, but what it is receiving from the public is very disappointing.

“Any time our men turn out to fight, they don’t know from which station they are coming, they start stoning them, injuring our staff and the equipment,” Liman complained.

Read the full story here.

Categories: Fire Service, Safety


Firefighter Close Calls - Tue, 05/07/2019 - 09:55

Emergency crews battled a massive fire at Main Street Village Apartments in Granger.

It started Monday afternoon in a block of apartments on Sterling Drive.

All tenants have been accounted for, and the Mishawaka fire battalion chief told us that no residents were hurt. Three pets were rescued.

One firefighter was taken to the hospital and was released Monday night, according to a Mishawaka firefighter.

Fourteen crews were called to the scene. Firefighters had to pull out of one part of the building when the roof started to collapse.

“It’s basically kind of timber and a lot of wood up there,” Mishawaka Fire Battalion Chief Mike Cloy said. “Then, it just basically spreads horizontally any way it wants to. Really, the fire kind of just has a mind of its own.”

Mike Haugh watched from his second-floor apartment across the way.

“I happened to look across there and just saw the fire erupting, and then immediately, within seconds, the entire building is coming down,” Haugh said.

Haugh’s biggest concern was whether pets were able to escape.

Categories: Fire Service, Safety


Firefighter Close Calls - Tue, 05/07/2019 - 09:53

Lorretta Pickard of Rockridge Road died as she spoke on the phone with a communications dispatcher for more than 20 minutes as smoke and flames engulfed the wood home.

BARTOW — Multiple problems with Polk County Fire Rescue contributed to errors made during a fire on Nov. 23 in North Lakeland that left a 76-year-old woman dead, according to a report from a company hired by the county to investigate.

After 2½ months of investigating, Emergency Services Consulting International (ESCI) reported:

‒ A lack of radio communication during the fire.

PHOTOS: Scene from the fire that killed Lakeland woman, 76

‒ A lack of training in the department.

‒ An ongoing challenge of finding experienced people to move into leadership roles.

‒ A failure to bring rescue tools to the burning home.

Lorretta Pickard of Rockridge Road died as she spoke on the phone with a communications dispatcher for more than 20 minutes as smoke and flames engulfed the wood home.

A supplemental report lauds the emergency call taker who spoke with Pickard. The International Academies of Emergency Dispatch Fire Council of Standards reported that there was nothing the call-taker could have done differently to change the outcome.

“The caller’s inability to exit the structure or move around in the structure or follow ‘Trapped in Structure Fire’ instructions severely limited what the call-taker could do to assist her,” the dispatcher group concluded, adding that “the call-taker should be strongly commended for her empathetic, caring interaction with a caller that would soon be deceased while still on the phone with the call-taker.”

However, the communication between the dispatcher — who relays information collected by the call-taker — and the fire units may have had problems, the ESCI report says, which was complicated by the first responding fire engine’s lack of a working computer. Without the computer, the crew did not have access to additional information through a computer-aided dispatching system.

“The Dispatcher did relay information after initial dispatch to the responding units that someone was trapped in the fire, although there appears to be a disconnect as it was not ever clear that the caller and the person trapped were one and the same,” the report says. And despite a “great deal of valuable information” entered into the computer system by the call-taker, including the location of the woman and possible location of the fire, “the first arriving unit (E6) did not have a working computer that day and had no access to that information.”

The report was critical of the department’s lack of self-reflection, saying no post-incident analysis was conducted in order to understand what happened and why it happened until after County Manager Jim Freeman was contacted Nov. 26 by Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd, who expressed his concerns about the fire response.

In the post-incident analysis that followed, ESCI reported that interviews and written statements about the fire were conducted well after the incident occurred and that much of the information from the analysis was “a subjective account by the officer who was the incident commander at the fire.”

No interviews or written statements were requested from the first crew to arrive on scene Nov. 23 and follow-up accounts “were found to be verbatim accounts that were initially written for the fire reports from the respective responding crews.”

Of the 24 key findings in the 250-page report, a number are centered around a lack of staffing within the fire department and the units that responded the night of the fire.

That’s in line with what Battalion Chief Jeremiah Gilley wrote in a report released in February.

Gilley wrote that four-person crews are needed to help during emergency situations, increased emergency training was needed for training captains and more firefighters were needed in North Lakeland.

To address similar concerns discovered during its review, ESCI recommends the fire department should contract with an officer academy for candidates and those promoted within their first year.

The report shows there are several firefighter positions open as a result of turnover, resulting in mandatory overtime assignments. The hiring process hasn’t met expectations despite the fact that the county’s human resources department has a specialist assigned to the department, the report stated.

Some of the findings were especially troubling for the department.

Interviews revealed there was no contact with the family of Pickard after the fire for days.

“It is essential that communication with the homeowner and family members following the loss of life and property loss is established through the incident commander to an assigned department member such as staff officer or public information officer,” the report states.

And the county created more problems by failing to effectively communicate to the media, which can lead to confusion and perceptions of negligence or ineptness.

County commissioners were briefed about the report Monday afternoon. A presentation by Stuart McElhaney, director of planning and strategic services for ESCI, is scheduled for 10 a.m. Tuesday in the county administration building.

Commissioner George Lindsey said he couldn’t determine whether any county employees should be disciplined or fired based on the report’s findings.

“I’m not ready to jump to that conclusion,” Lindsey said, adding that he had been only briefed and planned to read and review the report Monday evening.

Fallout from the fire has already led to one resignation.

Former Polk County Fire Rescue Capt. James William, who oversaw the first fire response, resigned in March. According to an internal investigation, Williams would have been fired for violating several county policies, including shooting videos at fire scenes, and the county’s public records policy by shooting videos then deleting the items.

Lindsey said commissioners have made a commitment to fund public safety.

“Where there are gaps in training or assets we are going to address those gaps,” Lindsey said. “If leadership and training requires a refocus then that’s what we’ll do.”

Commissioner Bill Braswell declined to comment, citing an ongoing lawsuit with the victim’s family.

Categories: Fire Service, Safety

U.S. Department of Labor Cites Contractor for Safety Failures

OSHA - Tue, 05/07/2019 - 07:00
May 7, 2019 U.S. Department of Labor Cites Contractor for Safety Failures
Categories: Safety


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